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Carluccio's Summer Menu

For someone that generally shuns chain restaurants (Brent Cross GBK excepted) I enjoy Carluccio's an awful lot. I'll always try to support an indy place over and above anything else, but I've got a lot of time for Antonio Carluccio (his is the ONLY bolognese recipe you should use) and despite them being on every high street, somehow I like them. I like their breakfast menu, I like their verdura pasta, I like how they know not to offer parmesan on seafood pasta and I really like their 'nduja in a jar. I like them. Also, when I watched their ep of Undercover Bosses I was pleased with how the kitchen worked; so there.

I was therefore thrilled to be asked to their summer menu preview, and I'm going to tell you about the best of their bunch here...

That giant charcuterie platter above is one of their new sharing boards and includes three fabulous salami, Parma etc and pleasingly some Mortadella. Proper Mortadella is made using traditional methods in Emilia Romagna (where the best food in Italy comes from, fact) and whilst yes, it is processed, it is done so lovingly in the manner of a very very fine sausage, and not some manky old water pumped reformed ham full of offcuts. It's a good thing, I promise. Try it next time you see it. That's Mortadella below, top left, and all it needs is a bit of good bread and some wine to shine:

Small plates is the order of the day for summer, and with beauties like grissini with parma ham...

... pepolata arancini...

and my personal favourite, caponata, on the menu at three for a tenner you will definitely see me chowing down on these at the Hampstead branch, straining to get some weak British sunshine on my face. Here's the caponata, which is a traditional Sicilian aubergine dish - kind of like an Italian version of ratatouille only with capers and no tomato and all the better for it:

If you're feeling adventurous drink-wise and the sun is shining, then move away from the prosecco and do try their Lambrusco. It's not like the old days of dark pink impossibly sweet bargain bucket stuff, really! The Italians swear by it. Keep an open mind and try it. Let me know what you think if you do. It's definitely on my drinks list this year.

Cin cin!

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